How to Clean, Maintain & Repair Your Garbage Disposal

Apr19 By Garbage Disposal Plumbing
Under the sink garbage disposal unit

Your garbage disposal is a convenient kitchen appliance, but it can also cause headaches if it stops working properly. Knowing how to clean, maintain, and repair your garbage disposal is essential to prevent plumbing clogs, water damage, and other problems. Here’s a closer look at these three aspects of garbage disposal care, plus some additional tips and tricks.

Cleaning Your Garbage Disposal

Food particles often get stuck in your garbage disposal, leading to unpleasant odors and potential clogs. Fortunately, it’s easy to keep your kitchen sink smelling clean and fresh. Just follow these tips on how to clean your garbage disposal:

  • Ice cubes and citrus: Turn on the disposal unit and drop some ice cubes down the drain. This helps to dislodge gunk from the impellers and removes stuck-on debris from the garbage disposal walls. Next, add small pieces of orange or lemon peel to leave a pleasant citrus scent behind. You can also use store-bought garbage disposal cleaner specifically designed for this purpose.
  • Baking soda and vinegar: These natural household cleaners freshen your garbage disposal without harsh chemicals. Sprinkle some baking soda down the drain and rinse with about a cup of vinegar. Let the resulting bubbling concoction sit for at least five minutes. Then, run the hot water and turn on the disposal to rinse everything thoroughly.
  • Scrub with an old toothbrush: The underside of the garbage disposal splash guard harbors odor-causing germs. To clean the splash guard without removing it, first unplug the disposal for safety. Then, add a little dish soap to the bristles of an old toothbrush. From there, reach in and lift the splash guard with one hand and scrub the underside with the toothbrush in your other hand. Rinse with water to finish the job.

Maintaining Your Garbage Disposal

Proper garbage disposal maintenance can prevent costly plumbing repairs and extend the life of the unit. Here are some tips for maintaining your garbage disposal:

  • Avoid pouring used cooking grease or oil down the drain, as these substances can solidify and cause clogs. Instead, dispose of them in the trash.
  • Avoid putting hard or fibrous materials down the drain, such as bones, fruit pits, and vegetable peels. These materials can damage the impellers and cause clogs.
  • Only use your garbage disposal for small food scraps, and never feed it too quickly. If you have a lot of leftovers, scrape excess food from your plate into the trash before rinsing it in the sink.
  • Run cold water for a few seconds before and after using the disposal to help flush out debris.
  • Use the disposal regularly to keep it from becoming stagnant. Failure to run it for months on end could lead to rust and corrosion.
  • Never stick your hand or a utensil down the drain! If you need to retrieve something that has fallen inside, unplug the disposal first. You can find the outlet under the kitchen sink. If you can’t access the plug, cut off power at the main breaker box.

Garbage Disposal Repair

If your garbage disposal is not working properly, it may need repair. Here are some troubleshooting tips to try before scheduling garbage disposal repair with a plumber:

  • If the garbage disposal makes loud clanging noises, something may have fallen inside. First, turn off and unplug the unit. Then, shine a flashlight down the drain to check for foreign objects. If you see any, remove the debris with your hand or tongs. If the loud clanging noises continue, call a plumber for help.
  • If the garbage disposal is humming but not grinding, it may be jammed. You can loosen a jam by inserting a hex wrench into the corresponding hole on the bottom of the unit and twisting back and forth. If you don’t have a hex wrench, poke a broom handle around inside the disposal to shift the impellers slightly. Try running the disposal to see if it works now.
  • If the garbage disposal is not turning on, this could be due to a faulty electrical connection. Check the circuit breaker to ensure it hasn’t tripped, and inspect the power cord for any signs of damage.
  • If the garbage disposal leaks, you may find a puddle or signs of water damage under the kitchen sink. You may need a plumber to fix the leak or replace the garbage disposal.
  • If the disposal operates feebly, it may be getting old. You likely need a professional’s help to get it working again, or it could be time for a replacement.

Remember to always take proper precautions when working with a malfunctioning garbage disposal. If you’re unsure how to handle a repair, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumbing company for help.

Garbage Disposal Replacement

Sometimes, repairing a garbage disposal isn’t feasible, making replacement your only option. Here are some signs that it may be time to replace your garbage disposal:

  • The unit is more than 10 years old and is no longer functioning correctly.
  • The unit has suffered significant damage, such as a crack or leak in the outer casing.
  • The unit doesn’t grind food waste as effectively as it used to, leading to frequent clogs.
  • You notice persistent foul odors, even after cleaning and maintenance.

If you determine that garbage disposal replacement is necessary, consult a plumbing expert to help you select and install a new unit.

Schedule Garbage Disposal Services

At Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating, we understand that you might not feel comfortable cleaning, maintaining, or repairing your garbage disposal yourself. That’s why we offer all the garbage disposal services you need. Our 20+ years of experience qualify us to fix all makes and models of garbage disposals in homes throughout the Seattle area. If your unit is beyond repair, we can recommend a suitable replacement and install it on your behalf. Call us today at (206) 938-3219 or contact us online to request the plumbing services you need.

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